5 drinks to try if you’re tired of Pimm’s

Swap your lukewarm party pitcher for one of these continental appetizers, says Emma Hughes.

Whisper it: not everyone likes Pimm’s. Everything that goes with it, absolutely, but the drink itself?

Some of us tolerate this sugary suspension of fruit salad in the same way as soggy sandwiches and finger-sticking picnic chairs: it’s simply one of the admission prices for English socializing. But, given the choice, we probably wouldn’t choose to start with a wearable wasp magnet mug.

The good news is, whether you don’t like Pimm’s or you like it but sometimes want to try something different, the choice is yours. A huge one, in fact: cast your eyes towards Europe and a whole new world of revelers will open up.

Aperitif Where appetizersdepending on whether you are in Italy or France — from Latin aperitif, meaning to open, are designed to prepare the palate, as well as set the mood. Aperol, the vibrant orange blend of gentian and rhubarb that launched 1,000 spritzers, needs no introduction. Here are five slightly lesser-known, but no less delicious, alternatives.

1 campari

A ruby ​​red Italian icon, Campari was invented in 1860 by Gaspare Campari. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but the blend of many herbs, spices, rinds and rinds contains woody cascarilla and is thought to include the citrus chinotto.

It is delicious served simply with soda and is sometimes sold ready-made in small red glass bottles suitable for picnics; look for it in Italian delicatessens.

Drink it at home… At a Negroni (along with Tanqueray and Martini Rosso) at Quo Vadis in Soho, which has one of London’s best cocktail menus, including a strong selection of Campari-based cocktails, if you want to start your evening with something less impactful (quovadissoho.co.uk).

…and abroad The prices may be extortionate, but if you’re in Milan, you should definitely make time for a drink at Camparino in Galleria. Opened by the son of Campari’s inventor in 1915, it’s a stone’s throw from the Duomo and features beautifully ornate wooden interiors in the Bar di Passo downstairs (www.camparino.com)


2 Dubonnets

No appetizer list would be complete without Dubonnet, a blend of fortified wine, herbs and spices that includes a touch of quinine. Invented in Paris in 1846 by French chemist Sir Joseph Dubonnet to mask the taste of antimalarials taken by French soldiers in North Africa, it was originally made on the site of the Palais Garnier in the 9th arrondissement.

On this side of the Channel, it has long been a favorite in royal circles. Both the Queen and the late Queen Mother have been described as appreciative of her, and last year she was finally granted a Royal Warrant.

Drink it at home… With two parts Dubonnet to one part gin, on ice with a slice of lemon, according to the reported royal preference. To commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Cornish spirits maker Mainbrace has launched a Cornish Dry Gin with lemon verbena harvested at St Michael’s Mount – and it would fit the bill perfectly (£34.99; www.mainbracerum.com)

…and abroad Parisians still remember the famous “Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet” posters once ubiquitous throughout the city and the metro. It is at the Hemingway Bar of the Ritz Paris that we drink it (www.ritzparis.com)


3 Lillet Blanc

This lemony, quintessentially French aperitif – a blend of white wine and liqueurs, distinguished from vermouth by the absence of absinthe – has a bottle straight out of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, but a list of ingredients overall, with sweet Spanish and Moroccan oranges and bitter green orange zest from Haiti all featured.

Lillet is the late 19th century brainchild of two brothers, the Lillets, who worked as wine and spirit merchants in Bordeaux. Today, there are several Lillets: the white is sweeter and contains less quinine than the others.

Drink it at home… The Vesper Martini, James Bond’s favorite drink, is featured in Casino Royale (1953) as containing “three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka [and] half a measure of Kina Lillet [Lillet Blanc’s predecessor, which was heavier on quinine and sugar than the modern version]’. Order one at the legendary Dukes Bar in Mayfair (www.dukeshotel.com)

…and abroad In Bordeaux, of course, at La Brasserie Bordelaise, which has all the Gallic charm one could wish for, plus an extremely well-stocked vaulted cellar (www.brasserie-bordelaise.fr)


4 Vermouths

When drunk neat, fortified wines tend to be associated with after-dinner digestives. But despite being an essential component of everything from martinis to Manhattans, vermouth also makes a wonderful unadorned pencil sharpener, which is how it is often drunk in Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. . Enjoy it with ice and a slice of orange or old-fashioned with sparkling water on the side.

Drink it at home… Andrew Edmunds, a bohemian Soho mainstay since 1986, serves up spiced English vermouth over ice as you browse the menu (www.andrewedmunds.com).

…and abroad Vermouth bars are a big new thing in Barcelona. Local favorite La Vermuteria del Tano has been around for ages; it has retained barrels on the walls and its original marble countertops. Accompany your vermouth with crisps and preserved: premium quality canned fish.


5 Select

Think spritzes are all about Aperol? Think again. Select, which was created in Venice in 1920 by Fratelli Pilla & C, lends itself to mingling with none other than the sweetness of its more famous cousin Day-Glo.

Don’t be fooled by its raspberry-pink hue: it’s an almost savory herbaceous liqueur with notes of juniper berries that give it a unique, almost resinous character.

Drink it at home… In a Venetian Spritz with Prosecco, soda and olive at Celentano’s in Glasgow, a modern and lively Italian at Cathedral House (celentanosglasgow.com).

…and abroad Where else but Venice? Osteria Acquastanca on Murano is a good place for a seafood lunch launched with Select Spritzes (acquastanca.it).